Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series

About the series

The Global Commission on Internet Governance was established in January 2014 to articulate and advance a strategic vision for the future of internet governance. The two-year project conducted and supported independent research on internet-related dimensions of global public policy, culminating in an official commission report that articulates concrete policy recommendations for the future of internet governance. These recommendations address concerns about the stability, interoperability, security and resilience of the internet ecosystem. Launched by two independent global think tanks, the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Chatham House, the Global Commission on Internet Governance helped educate the wider public on the most effective ways to promote internet access, while simultaneously championing the principles of freedom of expression and the free flow of ideas over the internet.

This paper series is one of the project’s outputs. The papers were compiled into six research volumes, published in 2016–2017.

In the Series

Although most Africans remain disconnected from the Internet, and access to broadband services continues to be a central policy issue, the increased availability of broadband services alone will not reduce digital inequality on the continent. This paper argues that broadband can no longer be seen as a supply-side infrastructural issue alone. It focuses on demand stimulation measures, examines alternative policy and regulatory interventions and proposes multiple strategies across the information and communications technology ecosystem that could result in more inclusive digital development in Africa.

In developing countries, where nearly all users pay for their Internet on a capped and metered basis, zero-rating — where access to some content, commonly social media and text-messaging apps, does not count toward the user’s data cap — is a subsidy that can be important to operators, content providers and users. However, zero-rating is controversial, raising issues of net neutrality — the concept that all content should be treated equally on the Internet — market power, privacy, security and social equity. This paper examines arguments for and against zero-rating, in the context of emerging markets.
This paper creates a framework to navigate the dialogue surrounding critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT), addressing the emerging risks to critical infrastructure with the rise of the IoT, and toward explaining cyber threats to business and governments in the face of an expanding IoT. Presenting an overview of the basics of IoT and the technical processes and issues raised by it, and through landmark examples and references, a set of recommendations to overcome these risks are presented to create an informational resource regarding this growing pertinent conversation in light of competing information and forecasts.
Private Internet intermediaries increasingly find themselves at odds with governments, with serious implications for human rights. While in some jurisdictions companies face tougher data protection and privacy, in others they may face growing legal requirements to comply with mass surveillance, weaken encryption and facilitate censorship. Companies generally lack market and regulatory incentives to protect the human rights of all their users. The resulting global “governance gaps” require new cross-border institutions and mechanisms to strengthen companies’ ability to respect users’ rights and to hold firms accountable.
Internet intermediaries increasingly draw the attention of national governments seeking to regulate what occurs within their borders, being either urged to take down online information that governments dislike or to hand over information that governments want. These imposed roles undermine the great potential of individual empowerment that online intermediaries can provide. The challenge is to encourage Internet intermediaries to help people find what they are looking for, share what they want to share, and educate themselves, in ways consistent with both local and international law.
Measures to increase Internet penetration in Ghana are central to the country’s continued economic development. Yet Ghana is already one of the top 10 sources of cybercrime in the world, and faster and more reliable Internet will provide cybercriminals with greater opportunities to engage in illicit activities online. This paper considers how to foster Internet growth in Ghana while working to contain cybercrime levels.
Mobile networks are the most important last-mile access technology in Sub-Saharan Africa but existing mobile network economic models may not lead to affordable access for all, especially in poorer rural regions. Fibre optic networks in Africa, both undersea and terrestrial, combined with lower-cost wireless access technologies, offer new models for delivering affordable access.
Standards are important but poorly understood. Technology standards in particular enable the modern networked global economy to function. Within these technology standards, however, are hundreds or thousands of separate patent-protected technologies. This paper offers a market-based examination of the impact of these standards-essential patents (SEPs) on the firms and countries adopting technology standards. It concludes with implications for the future of SEP norms and public policy-governing standards.
Building on John Gerard Ruggie’s pioneering study of multilateralism, this paper presents an analogous study of multi-stakeholder governance and argues that multi-stakeholderism is, as yet, a much less well-defined institutional form, with cases exhibiting significant variation both in the combinations of actor classes entitled to participate and the nature of authority relations among those actors. The authors propose a taxonomy of the types of multi-stakeholderism and apply it to five illustrative cases. They conclude by examining their argument’s implications and identify areas for further research.
Ethics, though a key value of society, often serves more as a proclaimed virtue than as a standard to be applied in real life. For example, ethical issues have been addressed in the latest Internet governance discussions but their importance have not been adequately stated. Moreover, in connection with many different online social networks, the need for clear ethical standards to protect users’ privacy should be emphasized. This paper analyzes the lack of appropriate accountability for ethical standards in Internet governance and develops ideas for improving the ethics environment.